NOT a Dagwood Special by Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD

Packing the perfect power lunch

My mom reminds me that when I was in grade school, for lunch I would eat half a cheese sandwich with mayo or bologna with catsup or a tuna sanwich. She finds this amusing because I eat so differently these days. I still love tuna but opt for troll caught tuna or wild salmon.

I don’t remember lacking energy as a child either. When report cards where given, I often got this remark: “Elizabeth is a pleasure to have in class but she talks too much.” I think by today’s standards I’d be given a diagnosis and meds, for being so verbose.

Some theories about hyperactivity in children relate to their diet of processed foods in conjunction with an over-stimulating environment. When you’re young, everything is new to you. Children get excited about the simplest things, such as an unusual cloud formation. At least I did and still do.

Children are dealing with the “newness” of life and “information” coming at them through various formats. We have more TV channels than ever before with more commercial breaks squeezed into each show. We see pop-ups while surfing the net and are bombarded with barrages of billboard messages while commuting.

It’s a wonder we aren’t all being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But first things first, I’m here to help you make better food choices for you and your family.

When planning the perfect lunch for you and your little ones, first find out what they like. Take them shopping and have them point out their favorite foods. Focus on the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the “fresh” foods live. They will inherently be drawn to the bright colors of the produce world. Find fresh fruits and veggies that are portable such as grapes, clementines, carrots and celery. Cut up foods which do not already come in bite size portions.

Add lemon juice or OJ to sliced apples. The citric acid (vitamin C) prevents browning. Place dips and sauces in small containers to make foods more fun to eat. To keep foods cold, pack an ice pack or freeze a 100 percent juice box as an ice pack option. Wrap the ice pack in an unbleached paper towel and place in a plastic baggie. This will keep condensation from making the lunch bag soggy. The juice box can serve as a mid afternoon beverage while the towel makes a perfect pre-lunch handy wipe. Of course proper hand washing is always prudent.

Show your children how to pack a healthy lunch or give them options to assemble one on their own.

Lunchmeats are typically filled with preservatives but while visiting the beautiful new Whole Foods market at the corner of Lincoln and Rose in Venice, CA, I found some great lunchmeats by Applegate Farms. Their organic chicken breast boasts no antibiotics, no nitrites and gluten free—perfect for anyone with food sensitivities.

For more lunch options, see these serving suggestions of sustainable energy for you and your loved ones.

6 slices (3oz) Chicken Breast
1 ounce Almond Jalapeno Jack Cheese
(one ounce is the size of your thumb)
Wild Salmon or Troll Caught Wild Tuna Salad on crackers (1/2 cup is about 4 ounces)
12 Whole Grain Brown Rice Crackers (wheat free and gluten free)

Wild Salmon or Tuna Salad Recipe:
1 (6 ounce can) Salmon or Caught Tuna
1 Tablespoon Canola Mayo
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Ground black pepper
(3 turns from a pepper mill)
1 stalk celery, minced
1/4 carrot, shredded
1/8 red onion, minced (only if your children like onion)
Serve on sprouted grain or sprouted wraps or brown rice bread or wrap in bib lettuce, collard or mustard greens with the ribs removed.

Accompany with:
Sliced apples
dipped in OJ or lemon juice to prevent browning
2 Tablespoons Tahini Honey Dip
OR Millet Puff Bar

Tahini Honey Dip:
1/4 cup Tahini
2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Veritable Veggies:
Organic Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers & Grape Tomatoes (Children must choose the veggies they will eat)
2 Tablespoons Yogurt Dressing

Yogurt Dressing:
1 cup organic yogurt
1/4 cup red pepper,
1 scallion, minced (only if your children like onion)
1 Tbsp fresh dill, minced
Juice of half a lemon (use other half of lemon for the apple)

Millet Puff Bar
2 cups millet puffs (found in the cereal isle at Whole Foods or Co-op)
2 tablespoons walnuts, ground
2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup unsulfured dried fruit

In a bowl, combine millet puffs, nuts and flax seeds. In a sauce pot, set on medium-low heat, combine butter, honey and syrup. Melt butter, stir and add vanilla. Remove from heat. Add almond butter and mix to combine liquid ingredients. Pour over millet mixture and add cranberries. Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Place mixture in a 9 by 9 inch pan. Use a piece of wax paper or clean oiled hands to press mixture evenly into the pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and press again. Place in the fridge to cool until solid. Cut into two inch squares.